Friday, April 1, 2011

Memories of Cricket World Cup Final 1983

The historic moment that changed the course of Indian Cricket

 Ever since I watched the magnificent 1983 Cricket World Cup Final (at Lord's in England), of course, on TV, each final of the subsequent World Cups never fails to pull me back to that evening when India made history. 

TVs were only in Black and White. Colour TVs were yet to arrive.  TVs had arrived in Bangalore prior to 1980, but in Mysore, cumbersome antennae with many 'elements' in it had to be erected on very high poles.  At times it necessitated tying wires to neighbouring houses to prevent the high pole from collapsing in the wind.  They had to beg them to allow the wires to be tied! All this in an attempt to watch programmes from the Bangalore Doordarshan (Television Station).  Signals were beamed in certain directions only and rather feeble in other 'out of focus' areas.  

Not all matches were telecast like today.  TV coverage was still in the developing stage.  Doordarshan had telecast the semi-final match in which India beat England and the World Cup bug had bitten many. A month later, video tapes of this match were available and we had watched it at AIISH campus where some people had arranged.  I had watched the semi-final live in bits and pieces on my friend Keerthi’s TV and it was sort of a circus!  It was not at Keethi's home, but at his friend’s.  It was in a locality called Gokulam which was beginning to grow at that time.  His friend's TV had broken down and since signals were 'in focus' in that area, we took Keerthi's huge TV there.  What a craze!  TV signals were reaching there in good quality from the TV Station in Bangalore 90 miles away which was so heartening.  Repeating this circus for the 'final' was not possible with Keerthi for some reason and I was wondering where to watch. It was a ‘final’ that HAD to be watched, no matter where. India was to meet the mighty West Indies.  I was not alone in this quest.

Come June 25, I met Girish Nikam, my cricket teammate and another cricket buff. He was as determined as I to watch the Final, somewhere!   Girish told he would find some place as he had many contacts.  So as planned, I went to his house on my bicycle that afternoon. It was about 3 O'Clock and the match had begun. India was batting first. We were listening to the commentary from BBC on his Bush 8-band vacuum radio. 

After some time, he inquired on the phone (luckily there was a phone in his house) and found that there was a friend close by who possessed a 'telly' (TV).  I left my bicycle in Girish’s house and pillioned him on his scooter to catch the action. But we were disappointed to see such an awful TV reception there. For that moment, we felt contented even as the dots and scratches annoyed us to form very fuzzy pictures which was quite a strain to the eyes.  It was ridiculous but that was the only choice for the time. We wondered how they watched other programmes on it!  Come to think of it now, we cannot tolerate even a minor disturbance on the screen and we call up the Cable Network chap and complain!  That radio commentary guided us to know who was doing what. Such was the extremely poor quality. By then, West Indies had already begun their chase of 183.

Girish tried another source over the phone from there. By that time, West Indies were already two or three down. Viv Richards was going great guns.  Soon, we heard a huge roar on radio.  The commentators were describing Kapil Dev taking a beautiful catch to send back the danger man Richards, while we watched the 'snowy' pictures.  But we could not make out anything from the 'visual'.  Audio was equally worse.

Richards' airy stroke that turned the match India'a way.

While that brightened India’s hopes Girish’s telephone call brightened ours – to watch better pictures. Lo and behold! He had found someone in Gokulam, the 'in focus' area.  So we rushed to the new venue, a 15-minute ride.  It was Girish’s friend’s friend’s house.  We felt like having won a jackpot!

(Watch the video of that catch - it looks easy, but it certainly was not!)

Our joy knew no bounds.  The reception and quality was almost crystal clear!  What a soothing sight after the snowy picture!  And to our greatest delight, it was a rare colour TV as well!  The Lord's ground was such a sight to my eyes esp. after that previous experience!  We witnessed West Indian wickets tumbling. In a short while, about 15 lucky strangers gathered in front of the telly! It was 'someone's home!  They were so kind to entertain such an unforeseen audience for such an occasion!

The mighty Carribeans had incredibly perished, like bunnies, that too to India, for 140.  

Victory! Stumps suddenly become mementos to Indians!

I must tell here that till 1983, they were 60-over games.  It was in vogue probably because English summers have very long days and the first three World Cups were in England.  India were all out 183 in 54.4 overs and the West Indies were all out 140 in 52 overs.  Talk about run rate!

After the TV coverage ended, all of us profusely thanked the residents and left, ecstatic, having enjoyed every moment of live action that we could.  Nobody had ever experienced anything like that before.

On our way back, some youngsters were shouting and celebrating on the streets. The Medical College Hostel students were already making merry on Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road.  It was well past midnight.  Girish dropped me back home.  I told him I would take my bicycle from his home the next morning.  Worried and anxious elders wondering my whereabouts heaved a huge sigh of relief on my arrival. In those not-too-many-telephone-days, I neither thought of informing them or cared for dinner either. Such was the intensity of thrill that we forgot hunger! It was an unforgettable adventure.

The next day in the office, our cricket-loving colleague (late) Srinivasa Rao wanted to share his joy of India's victory with us, four in number, our 'cofee group'.  He was a fine gastronomer also.  He announced he would host a breakfast for our group the next morning at the famous "Mylari Hotel" in Mysore's Nazarbad renown for Masala Dosas (picture below).  It was also the beginning of a new chapter for our 'coffee group' that also earned another name - "Mylari Group"! Read about it and more in my exclusive blogpost here:

In the days that followed, it was time to hunt for magazines on news stands for issues covering in detail about the World Cup, esp. the Final. They were supposed to be 'ones to collect', for their pictures and articles!  They were in great demand, quite obviously.  Video cassette tapes of this final were also available many weeks later and I got to see the full match.  But nothing to beat live action.

It's time now for the 2011 edition - tomorrow, April 2.  
India Vs Sri Lanka (Rama Vs Ravana?). 

I will be watching Doordarshan which has devised yet another novel way to harass the viewers - by switching off original commentary from the venue and attaching its own team of commentators who describe the game sitting in the studio at Delhi, watching TV just like us!  


girish nikam said...

Dinu, good to recall that glorious day and how we sweated to reach a working TV set! By the way, I had to find a set, as I had to report the Match for Star of Mysore, wonder whether you remember my report! I still have a copy of it!

sundar said...

What a wonderful memory you have sir.

very nicely recollected

enjoyed reading the entire post